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Miami's Gillian Oakenfull is 2012 Ohio Professor of the Year
Farmer School of Business, has been selected as the 2012 Ohio Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). It is the only national program to recognize excellence in undergraduate teaching and mentoring.
Oakenfull was selected from nearly 300 top professors in the United States. This year, a state Professor of the Year was recognized in just 30 states and the District of Columbia. There were also four national winners. Professors are being honored at a luncheon Thursday, Nov. 15, in Washington, D.C.
Oakenfull, also the director of experiential learning in the Farmer School, was nominated by colleagues and students.
“I have been engaged in business education for almost forty years, and I have not in all that time met a more innovative and dedicated instructor than Gillian Oakenfull,” said Dennis Sullivan, senior director of international programs at the Farmer School of Business.
“As director of the Honors Program at Miami University, I have shepherded over 900 proposals for honors courses through the review process and observed hundreds of faculty teaching courses. When Dr. Oakenfull submitted her proposal for an honors marketing capstone course, “SocietyWise 360,” I along with the other members of our review committee were, to put it bluntly, astonished. It was the most thoughtful, developed and rigorous proposal for an advanced honors course we had ever seen. When she taught the course, the results were nothing less than stupendous,” said Carolyn Haynes, interim associate provost and professor of English. “Dr. Oakenfull is exactly the type of educator that higher education needs. She is highly reflective, thoughtful, rigorous and innovative — and she is willing to marshal vast amounts of courage, make herself vulnerable and take purposeful risks to develop her students into deep thinkers and serious professionals.”
Oakenfull describes her teaching philosophy this way: “My teaching is designed to prepare and empower students to deal with complexity, diversity and change. I achieve this objective by creating a student-centered experiential learning environment that actively applies to four central tenets - thinking critically, understanding contexts, engaging with other learners and reflecting and acting. As such, I have devoted considerable effort to developing learning models that are inquiry-driven, call for active learning and place the student at the very center of his or her learning experience. In addition, I focus much of the class on developing my students’ abilities to communicate effectively and deal with ambiguity – two skills that I believe are vital for long-term success in both their professional careers and personal lives … I believe that as a business professor I have a responsibility to instill in my students an understanding of their individual role as future members and leaders of organizations whose activities affect the environment, consumers, employees, communities, stakeholders and all other members of the public sphere.”
Oakenfull, who started teaching at Miami in 1998, won the 2009 Richard T. Farmer Teaching Excellence Award. In early 2012, she received the Academy of Marketing Science’s Outstanding Marketing Teacher Award and the Marketing Management Association’s 2012 Hormel Meritorious Teaching Award.
“Dr. Oakenfull is probably best known as a world leader in developing and teaching experiential learning classes,” said Farmer School Dean Roger Jenkins. “Moreover, her leadership on diversity-related issues is matched by no one. She is chair of the Farmer School’s diversity committee, the chief faculty adviser to the Women in Business student organization and a member of the College of Arts and Sciences’ ‘Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program.’ Recently, she coordinated GLBTQ “safe-zone training” for my entire executive committee and other members of the faculty. As a result of her tireless efforts, in 2011 Dr. Oakenfull received the Women Breaking Barriers Award from Miami’s Women’s Center.”
CASE and the Carnegie Foundation have been partners in offering the U.S. Professors of the Year awards program since 1981. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching is an independent policy and research center that supports needed transformations in American education.
CASE is a professional association serving educational institutions and the advancement professionals at all levels who work in alumni relations, communications, fundraising, marketing and other areas.
TIAA-CREF, a financial services organizations and higher education's premier retirement system, is principal sponsor for the awards ceremony. Additional support comes from higher education associations including Phi Beta Kappa.